(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A day early...

Welcome to tomorrow’s post. Tonight I am off to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends and family. I may sleep in tomorrow, then I am off to see The Hobbit, so I am posting my regular Thursday post early. Today is full of soul searching that comes with the end of a year. Tomorrow is a new year, and a new page of my life.

I can’t wait for this year to end. It sucked. A lot. It has been a ride not unlike a roller coaster – but without the fun.

It is almost inevitable for thoughts to dwell on the year that was. I have lost too many friends this year. I will miss them. I have shared heartache with others. I have lost creators of many childhood memories, celebrities and artists who I looked up to and brought joy to my life.

2014 has been heart wrenching, exhausting and sometimes terrifying. I am learning it is okay to follow my dreams and not live life to the expectations of others. I have rediscovered my passion for writing and found solace there. I found the strength to stand up to bullies who were making my life hell, and the courage to quit my job, which was killing me. I do not know where my future lies…

Strangely, the unknown is less stressful than remaining employed in a toxic workplace.

I apologise for any crap that has spewed forth from my fingers this year – all too often. I have been deeply hurt by some I thought friends, felt betrayed by my employer (of seventeen years). I have needed to vent.


I have also found friendship in the most unexpected places. To my friends, thank you for your support.Thank you for being here, for listening to my ravings as I struggled through the year. I really appreciate it.

Mostly I thank God for my family. My daughter has had her moments – with random hugs to lift my heart. My dear David has stood by me on my darkest days. He has shared my hell and not run away screaming. He is ‘the bestest husband I ever had.’ 

I love you, David.

Always and completely.

And what of the future?

Life can only get better. 2015 brings news beginnings, renewed enthusiasm and rekindled dreams.

I hope it brings you joy and you find what you are looking for.

Happy New Year to you all.

A day early...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

curtsies-and-conspiraciesMy third guest blog post is up and running at Suz’s  Space- Mondayitis: The Adventures of Bumbersnoot

(A short book review – with a difference- of Gail Carriger’s Curtsies and Conspiracies.)


Monday, December 29, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Happy New Year

My third guest blog post – The Adventures of Bumbersnoot – will be on Suz’s Space – a book review with a twist on her Mondayitis – “written from the point of view of a minor character, preferably an animal or inanimate object.” Look for it on Tuesday 30th December after 10.30am.

Thanks to Suzie for inviting me.

Happy New Year!

Guest Blog Post: Happy New Year

Sunday, December 28, 2014


will the computer gadgetry work this time?


What Was, What Is and What Will Be.

The Obligatory Year Round Up Post.

It is less than a week til New Year.  It has become a tradition for television to trot out The Year that Was specials. It seems almost everyone in the blogging world starts listing their achievements. Friends (and complete strangers) extol their regrets and sincerely pledge their New Year’s resolutions, wondering which if any will join the pile of regrets totted up at the end of next year.

2014 – Year that was:

  • Writing: This year has been consumed with writing. It has sustained me.

  • completed (and won) 2 Camp NaNoWriMos – April and July

  • completed my first novella manuscript (now in second draft) Doctor Jack.

  • attempted my first full NaNoWriMo – almost completed the first draft of my steampunk novel – The Department of Curiosities

  • held my first stall at Teanannigans.

  • opened an etsy store – Off the Artboard.

  • attended two pop-culture conventions (Oz Comic Con and Armageddon) – and survived the crowds.

  • work-related anxiety culminating in quitting my job and workcover – to save my health.

  • had two health scares.

  • lost 12 kilograms of the weight piled on during the past few years of stress. (phew)

  • started a three month sabbatical – full time writing.

  • I survived 2014… just.

In the costuming world, it is customary to list the year’s completed costumes and those planned for the upcoming year. So here goes:

Costumes completed in 2014: A lot less than I had originally planned.

  • Steampunk areonaut

  • Steampunk – striped corset and skirt.

  • Aeronaut wings

  • Firefly group costume

  • Osgood

  • Marceline

areonaut 1 1412  teananigans 1406 wings 1408
 Firefly 1412 photo Anne Ruwoldt

2015: The Year That Will Be:


The easy part is listing the costumes I would like to make. Gone is the list of ten to fifteen outfits in twelve months. I am trying to be more practical.

  • finish Queen Victoria (Pirates Misfits)

  • I am in need, and greatly desire, a new steampunk outfit and gadgetry.

  • A new Victoria and Otto ensemble (I have the material for the corset already)

  • Finish the River Song outfit. (the material was bought two years ago!)

New Year’s Resolutions – or more accurately – what I hope to achieve in 2105:

  1. learn to deal with the anxiety remnants from work.

  2. remain professional

  3. look after myself first – my mental and physical health. Learn to say no. Walk 30 minutes every day. Set up a standing desk.

  4. revel in my family time

  5. Avoid conflict – or at least the anxiety that accompanies the resulting fallout by surrounding myself with true friends (also see #1)

  6. do more photography – just for the sheer pleasure of finding the wonder in the world. It can be a most beautiful place.

  7. finish weeding the garden, refurbish the back garden beds and maybe – just maybe – get some more fruit trees planted this winter.

  8. decide if I will return to my long term career in optometry or gather the courage to take on a new path

  9. give this writing gig a proper attempt, no matter what I decide for #8.

  10. keep up the (almost) daily writing routine

  11. finish, rewrite, edit and attempt to publish my novel, The Department of Curiosities (and novella, Doctor Jack)

  12. If successful in #11, then have a book launch

  13. start my second novel and novella.

Thirteen – my lucky number.

2014 has been a dubious year for me, full of trials and heartaches, stresses and anxieties. I can’t wait for it to end. Life can only get better!

Bring on 2015.

What Was, What Is and What Will Be.

Friday, December 26, 2014

December Flash Friday, the Fourth.

I hope you all had a splendid day yesterday (or today for those behind Australia’s time zone). Here is my gift to you – my last offering for this month. I had a immense fun writing this one. The limit was 700 words.


by Karen J Carlisle (c) 2013

Lucy was not fond of visiting Aunt Enid. Her aunt was nice enough but had never really embraced the electronic age. She had no internet access or pay television. Lucy always got bored.

Use your imagination, her aunt would say. Reality can be so much more exciting.

Aunt Enid had a passion for garden gnomes. It was almost pathological. She collected them from everywhere. There were small cute ones, large ugly ones and novelty ones with axes in their heads. They hailed from England, Germany and local garage sales.

Lucy picked her way through the gnome collection which stood in formation over the entire front yard. They all stared at her. Or was that her imagination?

“Mind the gnomes, dear!” yelled her aunt.


Every night Aunt Enid would go out to Bingo, leaving Lucy to entertain herself. Tonight she hugged Lucy as she left, yet again.

“Are you sure that you won’t be bored?” asked Aunt Enid. Lucy pictured herself sitting in the Town Hall, amongst the cardigan-clad brigade, marking off Bingo cards in an effort to win a basket of goodies. She winced.

“I’ll find something to do,” she said. Her aunt smiled and disappeared up the garden path.

There are only so many things that can be done to stave off boredom. Lucy had already read the contents of her aunt’s bookshelf on previous visits. It had not taken long to re-organise them into alphabetical order. After a few hours of reality TV and repeats, Lucy’s brain grew restless. She wandered to the front window and proceeded to name each and every gnome in her aunt’s collection.

Clouds darkened the sky. The wind caught the rose bushes. A branch lashed out knocking over one of Aunt Enid’s precious gnomes.

Lucy braved the brewing storm to retrieve the gnome. He looked so sad lying with one ceramic arm shattered on the concrete path.

Aunt Enid will be so upset, she thought as she returned to the house with the retrieved pieces.


It was getting late when Lucy heard strange noises from the street. The wind had stopped a few hours earlier, yet the front picket fence was shaking. The rose bushes were not.

Through the window, Lucy saw strange shapes writhing in the street light, just beyond the fence perimeter.

“Ash wood,” said Aunt Enid in her ear, startling Lucy who had not heard her come home. “It is good for protection but it won’t hold them for long.”

Aunt Enid struck her walking cane on the floor. It glowed. The air reverberated as a wave pulsed outward. Lucy struggled to hold her balance.

There was a cracking sound from the front yard. Then another. The picket fence buckled as the shapes rolled over it and onto the lawn.

The gnome guards took a step forward in unison. Those with fishing rods now brandished swords in their place. Axes were removed from heads and were now pointed towards the shadows.

Each gnome rushed the intruders in turn, demolishing them from below. As each row of gnomes fell, another took its place. With military precision they fought on until finally the dark shapes dissolved into a grey mist.

“Open the door,” said Aunt Enid.

Lucy unlatched the door, threw it open then clung to the wall beside it, leaving a clear line of sight. Aunt Enid held her cane at arm’s length and blew gently along it, towards the doorway. The grey mist stirred then retreated beyond the picket fence.

The gnomes halted then turned toward the house. Those left standing marched to their spot leaving the broken remains of their comrades behind. Only when they had all returned did they turn, as one, to face the street. There was silence.

Aunt Enid slammed the front door shut and locked it. She walked calmly into the lounge room and slumped into her favourite chair.

“Is that exciting enough for you?” she said.

Lucy nodded slowly, trying to let the night’s events sink in.

“Then you had better fetch the superglue,” she said.


The idea for this flash fiction sprang from one of my WiPs (works-in-progress) – my fantasy story Through the Mirror, Darkly.

December Flash Friday, the Fourth.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I seem to have done a flip over the past few weeks – replacing writing posts with that of my alter ego’s passion, costuming. This is not surprising, as there are a plethora of parties at this time of year (often costume parties in my circle of friends/clubs). Each serves to facilitate my obsession.

Last weekend was the annual Christmas Costume party held by the Australian Costumers’ Guild. There was no theme; it is a chance to pull out and re-wear old costumes. Okay, okay, many of us make new ones. Well, who needs an excuse anyway?

My daughter has decided she wants to create some pop-culture costumes during the school holidays.

“No problem,” I say. It gives me something constructive to do while procrastinating, I think to myself.

“Let’s make some procrasti-costumes!”

(“What is a procrasti-costume?” I hear you ask. It is a costume I make when I am putting off writing. At least I am being constructive, eh? That is a whole other blog post.)

IMG_7462tumblr_inline_neh8tkLCgF1rx0gegI finally put together my Osgood costume (Dr Who – Day of the Doctor). A labcoat, bic biros, my Doctor Who scarf – perfect costume for the a casual party.

Dearheart’s costume originated with a chance purchase of a hooded Santa coat. Add a mask and gloves (thanks to post Halloween sales) and the official Hogfather belt buckle (my birthday gift to him a few years back) and we have Hogfather!

Until now, I have made all of my daughter’s costumes. Now she has decided she wants to make some herself. Huzzah! Who am I to stand in the way? I am overjoyed. (More time to make ours – oops, did I write that?)

She is a big fan of Adventure Time – in particular of Marceline. I was put in charge of the hot glue. Another easy costume. (Thanks, Sweetie!)

She drew up a pattern for the axe-guitar, then transferred to a left-over cardboard box. The painting began. I helped her with some of the fiddly bits. My Dearheart spray painted the knobs and bobs (conveniently found in leftovers box in the shed).

Marcelines guitar in progress     DSC_4393photo Anne Ruwoldt

It is amazing what can be made from cardboard, wood offcuts, sculpey, wire, gardening string, bottle tops, odd curtain rod ends, hotglue and lots of paint.

The costumes were comfortable and we had a great time. I hope you all enjoy the silly season.

What have you got planned?


Friday, December 19, 2014

December Flash Friday, the Third

This week’s flash fiction was written last year. The inspiration was a writing prompt ‘Children’s story with the theme: peas’ – limit 500 words. Just a bit of fun.

Snow Peas

By Karen J Carlisle (c) 2013

Mum always tells us to eat our greens. They are good for us.  We grow them in the front yard. This year she went pea mad, planting every pea type known.

I hate peas. I swallow them whole, like pills.

Mum planted snow peas. She was hoped I would like them. I did, but not as mum had hoped.

Summer was hot. The snow peas were dying. Mum was sad. I wished I could help. I wanted to chase the heat away. I couldn’t, so I ate the snow peas.

They were cold. As I opened my mouth, a gust of cold air rushed out. It filled the room. Small icicles grew on everything it touched. Mum almost fell off her chair in surprise.  I opened my mouth again, this time freezing mum’s cup of tea. Then I had an idea.

Outside the sun was still beating down. I turned towards the vegetable garden and breathed. The air chilled around me. The temperature dropped. It felt like Spring. If I could lower it for long enough then maybe the peas could survive the heatwave. The temperature continued to drop. Now it was like winter.  Small icicles formed on the leaves, turning the tips black.

I heard the front door slam. Mum stood beside me.

“Oh dear,” she said. “Peas don’t like frost.”

Mum looked sad. I didn’t speak. The peas continued to freeze.  She hugged me.

“Thank you for trying,” she said. Though mum was upset at the loss of her babies, I must admit I was glad that I did not have to eat any more peas that summer.

It took two days for the snow pea effect to wear off. During that time, we discovered many new flavours of icies. Mum decided that she was not going to make me eat peas anymore. I suppose I do love snow peas, after all.


*Flash fiction is a short story of less than 800 words (definitions vary from 500-1000 words)

December Flash Friday, the Third

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Tea and Tidings - flying out soon

Do you like reading my blog?

Are you interested in knowing more about my writing or backgrounds to my stories?

Do you want to read preview snippets of The Department of Curiosities or The Adventures of Viola Stewart?

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December Tea and Tidings - flying out soon

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Time Traveller's Picnic

The annual Time Traveller’s Picnic is traditionally held on 8th December, to mark International Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day which started on a social site in 2007. (also known as International Dress like a Time Traveller Day). I first heard about this back in 2008/09 (can’t remember exactly when I will hear) on the Antipodean League of Temporal Voyagers. I think the first one here in Adelaide was in 2010 at Victoria Square and the launch of Olympia: A Steampunk Spectacular!

This year our vortex manipulators and time-turners screwed up and we all landed back at Victoria Square on the 7th (on a weekend this time – which meant we could attend this year!) We arrived from whenever and every time to take tea, Tictoc biscuits, pumpkin scones and Jammy Dodgers.

What to wear, what to wear?

I wanted something steampunkish but fit for the predicted hot weather. After the councils revamp of the Square, there is little shade. It was the perfect time to try out my new parasol and new (well, from the opshop) boater style hat.

I decided to try an early 1900s hairstyle to match the hat. First to make a hair rat: I have been collecting hair (sounds ick) for the past year. This is my first attempt. I used a ‘sheer’ stocking – but it defeats the purpose of using my own hair so I can match the colour. Next time I will try for a hair net to allow the colour to show through.

rat 1412 10488364_10152887572077937_2676064018249419907_n

1900s hair end of day 2IMG_7343A new hair accessory deserves a new hairstyle – this is my first attempt at this roll style. A lot of hair pins were required. The rat was covered at the beginning of the day.

This photo was taken about 3 hours later. You can see the lighter coloured stocking. (I definitely need a hair net)  I pulled out one of my very early steampunk outfits, added a newly aquired linen blouse to cope with the heat.

How to Time travel? With a vortex manipulator of course! (Dr Who for those who are not initiated.)

Had a great day with the family (My Dearheart dressed as Sirius Black – in the handpainted vest I made a few years ago – and Time-turner)

IMG_7288 IMG_7306

More photos are on my FB page – Karen J Carlisle or Flickr Page – Katdb.

Time Traveller's Picnic

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Last Minute: t-shirt sale

To my US followers:

Redbubble have another sale on 15% off all apparel using coupon code APPLY15 (valid in the USA only).

You can find steampunk/D&D-gaming themed t-shirts at my redbubble store:
Karen Carlisle /katdb 

Coupon code expires December 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM, and due to shipping deadlines is only for American purchases.


Last Minute: t-shirt sale

Friday, December 12, 2014

December Flash Friday, the Second

Last year I entered a lot of competitions. Many were flash fiction. Lost was entered for an anthology with the theme of twisted – under 500 words.


by Karen J Carlisle (c) 2013

The one thing that mother had said was to stay close. If only she had not stopped to pick up her beloved doll. If only she had not lagged behind. Their light had faded up ahead, long ago. Amelia only had the faint glimmer of the cave’s famous moss to guide her now. It had not helped. She stumbled over the now uneven ground. With the end of the man-made pathway, went all hope.

Amelia’s legs trembled and collapsed beneath her. The ground was cold. The chill of the thick air enveloped her, chilling her to the bone.

Maybe if she stayed put? Eventually they would find her. She sobbed. Her numbing fingers clung tightly to her doll. At least she had company.

The cave filled with the echoes of Amelia’s cries. Each one rebounded, lamenting the other growing quieter. Soon only faint, forlorn whispers remained, forming an eerie serenade that wafted through the endless tunnels.


Jack Bartel’s passion was caving. He had spent most of the morning exploring the caves. He stood in the main cavern, listening to the calming water as it dripped down the walls and marvelled at the faintly glowing mosses. A cool breeze caressed his face, breaking the stillness. On it rode a faint, sorrowful whisper bringing with it, heartache.

Some poor creature is lost.

Jack re-lit his headlamp and followed the sound along one of the cave’s passages. As he delved deeper, the air grew thicker. The cold crept closer. The cries grew louder until it was recognisable.

A child’s cry.

Jack’s gloved hands fumbled with his phone. He still had a signal and dialled for assistance. He pressed further on.

“Hello?” His call echoed back, becoming garbled as it ricocheted in the narrowing crevice. The cries stopped.

“Don’t be scared. I am here to help,” he said.


Up ahead, Jack saw something reflecting in his light. A few steps more and he found her.

The white bones were cold, loosely held within the tattered remains of a pale blue linen shift. Beside them lay a porcelain doll, its eye glinting in the torchlight.


*Flash fiction is a short story of less than 800 words (definitions vary from 500-1000 words)

December Flash Friday, the Second

Sunday, December 7, 2014

T-shirts 20% off on Redbubble Now

Check out my t-shirts on Redbubble.

REDBUBBLEDoctor2 RCdwarffighterRBtshirtkrakenchestbusteratRB protectoringRBT

Plus more steampunk and roleplaying designs.

Order now and get 20% Off Adult and Childrens Apparel with code WEAR20


T-shirts 20% off on Redbubble Now

How to Win at NaNoWriMo, While Not Winning

November was chocka-block with writing posts – as I am sure many blogs were. For those following my NaNo updates – you brave reader! To those oblivious to the tribulations of we band of NaNoWriMo sadists (on some days it does feel like that), you will be glad my NaNo posts end with this week’s offering. Last Sunday was the final day of hairpulling and frantic scribblings.

However I must admit, I feel like a bit of a fraud. While others have managed to produce NaNo winning tales (of at least 50,000 words) others have produced epics of well over 100,000! I am in awe. How did they do it? I have just past the half way milestone.

But am I bovvered? (As in the words of Catherine Tate)


In fact, I feel like a winner.

I had decided to attempt my first full NaNoWriMo to give myself a kick in the writing pants. After seven months, I had hit the dreaded middle of my story. I was determined to push past it, to finish the first draft of the manuscript of The Department of Curiosity. Unfortunately, life hit a very unexpected turn at the end of October. I gathered my courage and made some difficult decisions, then threw myself into writing as a means of distraction.

My original goals were achievable – finish my first draft manuscript (about 37,000 words), blitz my monthly word maximum of 15,000, try freewriting to get through the soggy middle of the story and find an ending.

I managed three of these goals.

The bonus? I got back into the habit of daily writing (I need to treat this as a job for at least three months) and discovered my maximum achievable daily word count (without effecting my health).

So, NaNoWriMo is over.

– It was my first foray into the full NaNo.

– I did not expect to reach the 50,000 word winning goal.

– I had too many real life and health issues going on.

– I had about 11 days where I could not write due to family commitments and health issues; I am happy with the 27,000 in (effectively) 19 days.

– My new monthly maximum word count is 27,000 words.

– My goal was to finish my manuscript (about 37-38,000 words). I finished over half way to the lofty goal of 50,000 and within sight of finishing my manuscript. This is not officially a NaNo win but I have progressed from 50% to 86% of my first draft completed!

I consider I have won on this one.

snapshot of stats 2

How to Win at NaNoWriMo, While Not Winning

Friday, December 5, 2014

December Flash Friday, the First: Micro Fiction

This week I present you with a micro fiction story (less than 100 words) Micro fiction provides an excellent exercise in sparing words and ruthless editing. This was one of my first attempts at this form, written for a children’s flash fiction competition, in 2013.


by Karen Carlisle. © 2013

“That damned cat!” There was a blur of black under Mum’s feet. “It just appears out of nowhere.”

Binky now sat cleaning himself. Watching.

“He is always watching,” she said as she rubbed her ankle. “No doubt, smiling at his handiwork.” She glanced in his direction. The spot was now vacant.

“See! Maybe he has gone off to report back to the alien mothership?” Mum grinned mischievously.

I found Binky in my bedroom, staring into the air and mewing. The air shimmered before him, revealing a feline hologram that listened intently. It disappeared. I gasped. Binky winked.

“Ssh, our secret.”


December Flash Friday, the First: Micro Fiction

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Flash Friday month Info

Summer can very hot here in South Australia. My brain feels fried; I can be a bit unpredictable. Maybe this is why I write more flash fiction during this time?

Each Friday this month, I will post some of my unpublished flash fiction* short stories. As a result (just for December) my Thursday posts will be made on Fridays (because Flash Thursday does not have the same ring to it)  – so look up my website on Fridays and Sundays from 10.30am  (CST Australian time).

IMG_5093Merry Christmas!

December Flash Friday month Info